It’s your first trip to Hong Kong and you are very excited about it! You are thinking what you should be preparing for the trip. If you’re a mom like me, for sure you are a detail-oriented planner. If you are single, well you still need to know how to prepare for your first Hong Kong trip. I bet you are researching this topic now because you would like to be fully prepare for this trip, am I right? Then you don’t have to search more because I will help you how to do it right and with less hassle, with my seven important tips for your first Hong Kong trip, and with my own experience and preparations. Anyway, this is all we wanted – to make our vacation a relaxing one – so we have to equip ourselves with helpful information and tips that we really need to make this trip a memorable one.
MY OWN PREPARATIONS
Last year of December my mother like to travel to Hong Kong with us, her children and grandchildren, where airfare, accommodation and Disneyland tickets were all paid by hers! That’s great news for us! As her responsible daughter, and because this is our first trip abroad, I research about it and concluded that I needed to plan it ahead on my own to get the best value of our money and our time that we will be spending there. I’m saying this because a lot of people are giving this preparations and this great responsibility to travel agencies out there. But for me, after weighing things out I believe that do-it-yourself preparations are much more amenable and cost-effective than having a scheduled day-to-day itinerary with travel agencies. I will tackle this more in my future articles.
Now let’s talk about the seven important tips you need to prepare for your first Hong Kong trip.
1. YOU NEED TO BOOK AHEAD YOUR AIRFARE TICKETS
This is the first important thing you need to do for your first Hong Kong trip – booking ahead of time your airfare tickets. The earlier you do this, the better. I searched our airfare three months before our desired date. The benefit? It’s cheaper than late bookings. A month’s booking is still late for me, you missed many low airfare deals if you will wait for that longer before doing something.
I searched every airfare prices in several airfare intermediaries like Trip Advisor, Expedia, and others but I’m still not convinced. So I contacted several travel agencies that I saw on Facebook and ask their airfare promo tickets, then I go for the lowest one that has been given by Metro Wanderer Travel Agency. They proved their legitimacy since we were able to take our flights and completed our journey. When transacting with travel agencies online you need to read its reviews, try to call their given contact numbers and follow your guts because you will have to pay the whole amount by depositing it to their company’s bank account. Always do your homework and double check everything, even if it means you repeatedly message or call them. Their way of handling their customer’s concerns shows their true colors and with that it will give you some comfort knowing that you chose the right travel agency.
Now that you have your airplane tickets let’s go to the second important tip you need to know for you first time Hong Kong trip.
2. YOU NEED TO BOOK AHEAD YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS
My second tip for your Hong Kong’s first trip is to book your accommodations. Once you have your flight dates for your Hong Kong trip, you can now search for your family’s accommodation. Where would you like to stay? Do you prefer premium hotels or in affordable inns? There are some factors to consider first before you choose your accommodation. These are:
- Do you have kids with you? – Since we have three kids in our group I chose a hotel, because as what I searched, inns in Hong Kong are very small and the cleanliness is questionable. I can’t just choose randomly, I need to make sure that somehow, our accommodation is safe, clean and kid-friendly.
- The distance of the accommodation versus the tourist spots – some of the hotels are far from Hong Kong’s central district or the main town, where most of the tourist spots are located. Though Hong Kong has a marvelous MTR system it would still take time, so you better balance it.
- Do you like thrifty accommodation or money is not an issue for you? – Plain and simple.
With these pointers you will know more or less the best option for you. And where will you find great accommodation deals? I suggest you check out Trip Advisor’s list. For me, they have the best deals from the different intermediaries like Agoda and Expedia, with matching user reviews so you will never have to choose the lesser ones. Trip Advisor is a really helpful app for travelers. I chose mine from them, and it’s Silka Tsuen Wan Hotel, my best choice for my family. You will read my review on it in my next articles.
So after you got your accommodations then what’s next?
3. YOU NEED TO PRE-BOOK YOUR ITINERARIES
The third tip is to pre-book your itineraries or activities for your first Hong Kong tour. I’m not saying you have to pre-book all of your day-to-day activities in Hong Kong. Just pre-purchasing some is enough because, like airfare costs, it is much cheaper if you book your activities ahead of time. I pre-booked our Disneyland tour on Klook and I never regret it. It was the best deal! What I regret is it’s the only activity that I pre-booked. Because I thought I could book more when we will be in Hong Kong. But you cannot. You cannot book activities on Klook on the same day that you will use it. Instead, you can pre-book your activities two or three weeks before the date of the activity. So you really need to plan ahead of time. You purchased deals earlier for your future itineraries to save money and to save your time, because when you travel you want to make the most out of it, right? So the next time we will visit Hong Kong I will surely pre-booked the right amount of activities for my family.
4. YOU NEED TO HAVE A HANDY WI-FI IN HONG KONG
My fourth tip for your Hong Kong first tour is to rent a portable Wi-Fi. Yes, you need internet connection when travelling first time in Hong Kong, because literally, you will roam there without knowing where to go, can you do that? You need a map to know where will you go first. To know where and what station of MTR you will go to get to your destination. You have to know the nearest route to get to the Ladies Market. And you will accomplish all of this without asking someone out there if you have a portable Wi-Fi! You will understand this when you get there. What’s cooler is there’s an application called CityMapper where you will know where in Hong Kong exactly you are. It will guide you to your chosen destination by giving you your next steps to take, as in literally steps I can say, to avoid confusion. You’re in a foreign land but don’t fret because these tools will help you to find your chosen spots.
5. YOU NEED TO PREPARE YOUR SWEATERS
My fifth tip for your first Hong Kong getaway is to bring the right clothes for Hong Kong’s cold weather. Hong Kong has a cool air for the whole day and colder in the evening. The temperature is around 17 to 21 degrees Celsius all throughout the day. You don’t like your kids or you to get chilled. You can bring sweaters or layers for you and some jackets for your kids. I personally bring long sleeves for my outfit because I don’t want to bring another item as we roam Hong Kong. I bought light-textured and cottoned-fabric long sleeves for me. Hubby and I also bought new pairs of rubber shoes for us and for our kids because we know that long walks and long strolling are awaiting for us in Hong Kong, especially in Disneyland, so we need to be prepare for that.
6. YOU NEED TO EXCHANGE YOUR MONEY TO HONG KONG DOLLARS
My sixth tip for your Hong Kong trip is to exchange your money to Hong Kong Dollars a week before the trip. Of course, you need to do this beforehand, exchange your local cash to Hong Kong Dollars before taking your trip, though you can do this upon landing in Hong Kong International Airport. But it is still wiser to go to your local money changer and have your money exchange there, to save time and energy. When you’re in Hong Kong already you will be buying your food and everything in Hong Kong Dollars only, so better prepare your pocket money beforehand. So how much will you have to bring? I will tackle it in another article, so stay tuned.
7. YOU NEED TO HAVE AN OCTOPUS CARD
My seventh and final tip is to buy an Octopus Card upon arriving in Hong Kong. What is an Octopus Card? It is Hong Kong’s stored value card where one can use for at least everything when travelling in Hong Kong. Whether you are riding an MTR or a bus or cruising in a ferry, just as a swipe your Octopus Card and you already paid. You can also use this in buying foods in supermarkets or dining in restaurants. Very convenient right? And advanced! You can buy one in MTR Stations in Hong Kong, I bought mine in 7-11 Convenient Store. A child ages 3 and up needs to buy his own card for his own fare.
Upon buying Octopus Card you will also have to buy credits to be loaded in the card. For every transaction you made it will be deducted to your money credits. You can refund your card credits or you can still use its balance for your next Hong Kong escapade.
So there you have it, my seven cents of advice or tips to you if you ever plan to travel in Hong Kong for the first time. There are many things to prepare for, but these are very specific tips that you really need to know. This list can be a time-saver and a life-saver for you and for everyone who wants to have a stress-free Hong Kong trip. What other things do you need to know about Hong Kong? Comment it down and let me help you! – Lai